Friday, October 9, 2009

The Writing of Bite Me

I never intended to write "Bite Me" until the night before I started. This is the only one of my novels where that was the case. I had been planning the novel that ended up following it, "Waking Echoes", for two years, and fully expected to begin it the weekend after I wrapped up Halloween Romance.

[Brief aside: I do not have a deal with Eternal Press for "Waking Echoes" at present, but it explains the odd things that are happening to Taylor Calvin, the Anghels' next-door neighbor and Dianne's older friend. Many of the events in the
two stories are simultaneous.]

Lying in bed considering Ferdinand and Selene and where I left them, living happily enough for a while, I needed to know what happened to their daughter. I got to thinking about consequences of old deeds, the seldom-explored phenomenon of a modern teenager who fiercely loves her parents, family relationships under pressure, and dealing with change in oneself. And I realized that moping, to a certain extent self-pitying, romantic vampire Ferdinand seriously needed a foil.

So I came up with Doctor Nat Silver, the jovial, learned, and terribly dressed vampire. With Dianne changing partially into a wolf in moments of strong emotion and Ferdinand struck with some strange malaise, the Anghels find in Nat both medical help and a dose of enthusiasm.

At age fourteen, which is when I began the first draft, I could have used a Nat
myself. Dianne's journey through dealing with her involuntary shape-shifting paralleled my own growing awareness that something was "wrong" with me, and the tension between the loving Anghels came to echo the strain my own three-person family went through when I was diagnosed with a mood disorder. "Bite Me" went on hiatus for about three months of deep depression, the only complete writer's block I've had all my life. Things improved marginally when I could write again.

The final two chapters of "Bite Me" were written in severe, anxious jet lag. My doctors in China - I have been an expat much of my life - had concluded that my family needed to move back to the U.S. on a five-day notice so I could receive better care. The hopeful yet realistic resolution was a sign of health on my part, despite the doubt that swirled around me at the time.

Now I am far, far better, though I have come to accept that the touched with fire are never fully "normal" and happiness is more tenuous than I had supposed as a child. This peek behind the scenes is not meant to tug on your heartstrings and drum up sympathy - it is hardly unique among stories of trial. But I want you to know that though the characters in "Bite Me" have magic in their blood, they are woven out of the same mundane, flawed, hurting, and terribly beautiful threads as you and I.

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